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Four Years at the Mount

Senior year

Seize the moment

Katie Powell
MSM Class of 2015

(1/2016) I wrote an article a few months ago that was about second chances. I claimed that they were miracles and explained why through a personal story. I feel that as a writer, part of my job is to challenge my readers to recognize the world in different ways and through different eyes. I apologize if you did not enjoy that approach because yet again, I have found a deep personal connection to discuss with you all on the topic of New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions are just a fancy time of year for a second chance—New year, new you, as they say. People use it as a jumpstart to kick a bad habit, or as an excuse to wait further to start. For most people, they are simple things: going to the gym, eating healthier, reading the Bible front to back, or simply trying to be a positive person . . . things that they may start and stop or may hold on to forever. These things are not bad, but they are rarely drastic changes.

However, for some people they are. Some people take the "new you" rule very seriously and make radical changes in their lives. Some people quit their jobs and move to Florida, or buy a fancy car (somehow), or sell everything they own, move somewhere new, and literally start a new life. My late uncle was one of those people, except he did not need the New Year to tell him to do it. He lived every day like it was the first day of the New Year and he never looked back. I think he set a great example of how to live one’s life to the fullest.

My uncle believed that it was always a good time for a do-over, and he took them frequently. He was a professional body builder for many years and won several trophies and prizes through it. In fact, there is one too many pictures of him posing for competitions laying around my home for my liking.

He decided he wanted to settle down, so naturally he decided to be a police officer. I guess that was not exciting enough for him, because when he was offered a job as a prison guard, he took it and never looked back. This may be a good time to mention that on top of being a body builder, my uncle was covered head to toe in tattoos. He was very intimidating. He has been called "the enforcer."

Suddenly, probably about five years ago, he picked up and moved to Florida to start his own gym and start a "new life," and who knows what he meant by that. But, he moved and started working in a gym and lived in Florida, moved back after another two years, and started again.

A bad accident in February left him badly hurt. He was lucky to survive with his life. His leg was badly broken and he was confined to a wheelchair. The wounds did not heal, and he was in a great deal of pain for a long time. However, ever the optimist, he believed that one day all would be solved.

Last Monday he told my mom he was starting over again. He said he was going to move away, get a new phone number, and start with a clean slate.

He died within a week.

Sad as it may be, my uncle lived a life of no regrets, and taught me a valuable lesson: Life is too short to wait for the New Year to start over. Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea of New Years resolutions. I think it is a great way for your mentality to match the time of year. Everything starts fresh on 1/1/16 and all the stress and problems of 2015 melt away. It feels right. However, sometimes we push things off until the next New Year to do them, claiming it as a reason, when it is simply an excuse. I have done it. Now I ask: why do we wait for special times of the year to make these changes? Why can’t the reason it is a special time of year be because you have made the change, and not why?

Life is unpredictable. In western society it is fast paced and we often get caught up in our daily lives, and our New Year’s resolutions reflect that. If there are two things that I want you to take away from my uncle’s story and this article, they are this: for one, if you are going to make a change, make it big and believe in your ability to accomplish it. For two, don’t wait for the New Year. At any point you can decide that it is time for a change, and as my uncle told me, anything you choose to do may be the one thing that defines you. So make it count.

My uncle had big dreams, and he believed you could accomplish them any day of the week. He believed that every one deserved second chances, and he gave them freely and without prompt, expecting nothing in return. He believed very sincerely that you could always start over. You could always start fresh, sell everything you own, and move away. You could always go back home. He was a free spirit, a bit reckless, but one of the most loving and caring men you would ever meet, and yes- I still mean the body builder with the tattoos. Today is the perfect day to start over. Every single morning is a new beginning, where the clock starts over and the hours begin again- as the sun rises, you too can rise with it and answer its challenge to illuminate the world as it does.

The New Year is a wonderful time to start over, but it is not the only time. The best time to make that change is right now. You never know what the future holds—why waste another day planning tomorrow?

Read other articles by Katie Powell